Peugeot Attacks Bakkie Market with Landtrek. It is not an Envious Task
This is one of those difficult road tests. A new bakkie brand in South Africa, is a bit of an enigma, isn’t it? Now Peugeot is poised to, and we quote the press release directly here, “conquer Africa once again,” with its all-new Landtrek one tonner. So we cringe before we even start. Why? Well, just consider recent bakkie history. Even mighty Mercedes-Benz failed dismally in its attempts ‘to conquer the bakkie market’.
LANDTREK MUST EXORCISE BAKKIE GHOSTS
Benz overestimated the premium that its Navara based X-Class could command. They priced it way out of line and that bakkie died a rapid and painful death. It wasn’t even two years old. The previous attempt lasted a bit longer, but Stellantis, nee Fiat’s re-badged Mitsubishi Triton is also already in the rapidly filling bin of South African bakkie failures. In spite of it being built on one of the best bases out there. And even priced brilliantly. Never mind, by the predecessors of the people who are now once again, trying to re-invent the bakkie wheel.
Trying to compete against giants like the Hilux, which is bullt in Durban, D-Max out of PE, and Ranger, Navara, and soon also the Amarok in Pretoria, is a gamble all on its own. You need big balls and a proper product to pull it off. And as Mercedes, Fiat, et al have so well proven in the past year or so, that’s still no guarantee. So if this road test is tough, it’s for damn good reason. We still have egg on our faces, even though we warned Mercedes that its prices were mad, Fiat that its dealer presence was, well, too tight.
Moving on, before we get to the bakkie itself, let’s first consider a few more Landtrek press pack promises. Robustness, durability and adaptability echo throughout, as Peugeot reminds us of its 212 year history and those ancient 404 and 504 bakkies of yore. Just like Mercedes told us about its obscure bakkies of the distant past. Fiat too. It goes on to state Peugeot’s goal of becoming a new bakkie benchmark in a market where bakkies comprise a quarter of the market. When 90% of those bakkies are built in SA…
PEUGEOT DEALERS & RIGOROUS TESTING
Peugeot reminds us that that it has opened 15 new dealerships over the past 18 months, which we estimate means there are around 40 of them. Toyota has 200, Nissan 118, Ford 90 and Isuzu 80. It mentions reliability, robustness, loading capacity and ease of repair a few more times. And that Landtrek has benefited more than two million test kilometres across all terrains and in all conditions, particularly on African roads. One of the farmers in my pub has a million kilometre ’08 Hilux. Two others have bakkies have done close to that too.
There’s however one line in there, that we found rather astounding. Allow us to quote it verbatim: Peugeot has, “worked closely with the best international suppliers from Europe, Japan, and the USA, amongst others, to design this vehicle.” We have no doubt that European, Japanese and US suppliers may be involved in some way or another. But it’s what it does not say that concerns us most. The release says not a word about China. Which is most interesting. Because the Peugeot Landtrek is actually built in China!
Scratch a little and you will find that the Peugeot Landtrek is indeed based on the Kaicheng F70. Targeted at Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, it replaces the Peugeot Pick Up, or Hoggar-badged Dongfeng Rich in North Africa. Which was based on an older Nissan Navara. Produced since 2019 and also known as the Changan F70 and Hunter in various markets, it arrived in SA as the Peugeot Landtrek late last year. Which is a tad confusing considering what the PR bumf leads one to imagine, is it not…?
CUMMINS OR KUNMING?
Someone else mentioned somewhere, something about Landtrek having a Cummins turbodiesel. Maybe we misunderstood the pronunciation. Because Landtrek is in fact propelled by a Kunming Yunnei D20TCIE 1.9 engine. Kunming? Cummins? Sounds the same, doesn’t it? And even more puzzling considering the Chinese Foton bakkie sold in SA a few years back, was indeed powered by a Cummins lump. Built in China under licence. Another interesting aside is that Kunming engines are produced by former Ferrari F1 partner, Weichai Power.
Anyway, there’s no mistaking that its a Peugeot. Landtrek boasts a strong personality with vertical LED DRLs and a powerful chrome grille with the Lion front and centre. Some of us like the look, especially in this emerald green hue. But others point out that it already looks outdated for a brand new bakkie. Especially compared to its stunning 2008 SUV sibling. At the end of the day, a car’s look and feel is a personal thing and what floats my boat, may not yours. So we’ll leave you to decide on all that for yourself.
Landtrek’s 110 kW 350 Nm DOHC 16 valve 1.9-litre variable turbine geometry Kunming turbodiesel turns a Punch Powerglide 6-speed automatic. Built in China by Bangzhi Transmission, it boasts the usual selection of Manual, Sport, or Eco driving modes. Ours drove the rear wheels. Peugeot promises Landtrek’s ‘robust load bay has the most accommodating cargo bed in the one-ton segment. It certainly is cavernous, but rather plain. Just a neat cover atop a rubberised bay with a key lockable tailgate.
CLASS LEADING LOADABILITY
Load ability is very good. Landtrek’s class-leading 1,085 kg payload excludes the nominal weight of the driver and eclipses all-comers. And the Peugeot is rated to lug a 3-tonne braked trailer. That may not match the 3500 kg of some rivals, but it’s more than adequate. And probably top of the class in combined carrying capacity too. Moving forward, the doors open wide and seven passenger compartment grab handles make boarding and disembarking a synch. The cabin is airy and smart, spacious and comfortable.
Stylish front seats sit you well and even offer a central armrest. Landtrek also has some cool rear compartment features. The versatile, modular 60/40-split rear seat backrest not only folds forward to support a 100 kg load, but it also tips up for a most flexible loading solution. In position, it sits at comfortable 23 degrees and two ISOFIX fasteners will safely dock child seats. Talking safety, Landtrek also packs in six airbags and ESP with Hill Descent Control and Trailer Swing Control.
Landtrek’s cockpit certainly looks the part. Oozing ‘meticulously designed’ French chic, it has classy looking toggle switches to access various functions. Just like its passenger and SUV siblings. And a crisp and clear 10” HD touchscreen boasting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10 GB hard drive and the cyber and connectivity kitchen sink atop the dash. Add automatic dual zone air conditioning, 360° panoramic and reverse cameras, parking sensors and the off-road camera. A complete range of customised accessories is also available.
A LADIES BAKKIE? WHAT’S A LADIES BAKKIE?
So you have state-of-the-art on-board technology, adaptability and SUV-like driving pleasure. That said, all is not quite what meets the eye. First of all, the farmers at the village pub, almost to a man confessed, “Ag nee man, this is a girl’s bakkie,” referring to Landtrek’s typical slick Peugeot cabin look. We argued that some people want a slick, ‘ladies’ bakkie. To which most of them frowned. And while the interior is flashy, it lacks the touchy feely aspects of, say a Peugeot 2008. It seems more plasticky and lacks its SUV siblings’ real cabin quality.
We also found Landtrek’s infotainment interface wanting, when compared to some of the bakkie systems out there. And no, we’re not talking about state of the art systems we have come to expect in Mercedes, BMWs and Audis, and even some of this bakkie’s siblings. We measure that against the likes of the Ford Ranger’s latest Sync and the most recent Toyota offerings. They have developed most impressively over the past decade or so. Peugeot has some catching up to do there, too.
On the road, Landtek is impressively silent through the air and has a comfortable ride. It can get a bit choppy over less than ideal surfaces, but that’s what you expect from a bakkie. It’s however sluggish and weak lower down the power and rev range and fuel efficiency is average for a mid spec engine. Performance is a second and a half off the similarly sized and also novel 1.9-litre turbodiesel Mazda BT-50 and close to 2.5 seconds away from the quicker double cab turbodiesels out there. We’d call that lacking.
LITTLE GEARBOX GREMLINS
We were troubled by the gearbox. Its reaction is sloppy and it takes too long when you stamp on it and need it to shift down quickly as you prepare to overtake. We were also frustrated by its poorly tuned anti roll brake feature, which is too grabby and releases too late. Makes manoeuvring in tight spaces tricky and uncomfortable. Why not just let the car creep like all other autos?
Being a 4×2, we never bothered too much about exploring much beyond the soft dirt, especially considering that it lacks a diff lock. Which, oddly enough, the 4×4 does list on its spec sheet. That had us scratching our heads again. Why they bother quoting 29° approach, 26° departure and 25° break-over angles, and 235 mm ground clearances in a vehicle unlikely to manage that kind of terrain in the first place?
Landtrek comes with a great five year or 100 000 km Warranty and Service Plan, but before we wrap this up, let’s first take a peek at what else you can buy in the R575Kish smaller capacity automatic turbodiesel double cab neck of the woods. Starting with the Toyota Hilux 2.4GD-6 double cab 4×4 SR, its a smidge dearer at at R580K. OK its a little down spec, but right now the market is paying more than what people bought a similar spec Hikuxes for five or ten years ago. Never mind the rest of it’s Toyotaness going for it.
SO WHAT WILL R575K BUY YOU?
You can get a Ford Ranger 2.2TDCi double cab Hi-Rider XL Sport auto for R521K, or choose one or two similar models close by. There’s the Isuzu D-Max 250 double cab 4×4 Hi-Rider and the Nissan Navara 2.5DDTi double cab SE Plus auto, both of which will set you back R550K. A touch more premium, the Mitsubishi Triton 2.4DI-D double cab auto costs R615K and the only other 1.9-litre out there, the Mazda BT-50 1.9TD double cab Active also commands a bit of a premium at R611K.
But then the Landtrek is after all a rebadged Chinese bakkie. So we have to consider that too. The brand new JAC T8 2.0CTi double cab Lux sells for just R417K and the top of the range GWM P Series 2.0TD double cab LT goes for R526,900. And then the top spec Indian Mahindra Scorpio Pik Up2.2CRDe double cab 4×2 S11 Karoo sells for R437K.
All in all, the new Peugeot Landtrek is a solid bakkie. It ticks many right boxes in a slick, chic and somewhat different option. Some will however contend that Peugeot is missing the plot. Bakkies are not meant to be flashy and luxurious. Its SUVs are perfect for that. Bakkies are meant to do their job and move things around. And then Peugeot seems to be doing its utmost to hide the fact that this is actually a Chinese bakkie.
DOES PEUGEOT LANDTREK HAVE A PLACE IN SA?
Which is a major concern. Not as much by its premium over other Chinese rivals, which similar premium killed the X-Class, even though Mercedes was always completely open about its Navara roots. But more about credibility. Because Landtrek is in reality a Chinaman in a fancy French suit. At a Parisian premium. Those recent failed new bakkie arrivals also mean that Peugeot has to prove itself as a serious contender with Landtrek. It’s too easy to just promise African bakkie conquest, when other major carmakers have so dismally failed at it, so recently.
All that said, besides that confusion about its Chinese roots, and in spite of its dreamy claims of market conquest rather than more humble sales expectations, we’d definitely say that the Peugeot Landtrek has a place in the South African bakkie market. It has some proper strengths and even leads the way in certain vital bakkie statistics. Yes, there are a few foibles, but nothing major. So we wish Peugeot and Sellantis all the very best of luck. Somehow we think they’re going to need it. Bon voyage! – Michele Lupini
Images & test data: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Peugeot Landtrek 1.9TD DC Allure Engine: 110 kW 350 Nm 1.9-litre turbodiesel I4 Drive: 6-speed automatic RWD TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 5.21 sec 0-100 km/h: 11.79 sec 0-120 km/h: 17.04 sec 400m: 18.1 sec @ 123 km/h 80-120 km/h: 9.01 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 172 km/h Fuel: 8.9 l/100 km CO2: 235 g/km Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/5y 100K km LIST PRICE: R579K RATED: 7